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Firefighters work at the scene of a fire that broke out at a chemical warehouse in Dhaka, Bangladesh February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain
DHAKA (Reuters) – The death toll from a fire in a centuries-old area of the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, jumped dramatically to 56 people on Thursday, a fire official said, and could keep climbing as fire fighters combed the wreckage of the destroyed building.
“So far, 56 bodies have been recovered. The number could rise further as searching is still continuing,” Julfikar Rahman, a director of the Fire Service and Civil Defence, told Reuters.
The fire broke out in what Bangladesh media said was a four-storey building on Wednesday night and quickly spread to nearby buildings in the Chawkbazar area of Old Dhaka, which dates back to the Mughal period more than 300 years ago
The toll had been put at 10 earlier on Thursday. Rahman said at least 50 people had been taken to hospital, some in critical condition.
Fire fighters fought for more than five hours to bring it under control, although it was still burning early on Thursday. It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze.
The Dhaka Tribune reported that the building housed a plastics warehouse and was full of flammable material.
Other media, including bdnews24.com, said firefighters struggled to find adequate water supplies and had to draw water from a nearby mosque to fight the blaze.
Building safety regulations are rarely followed in impoverished Bangladesh, where accidents kill hundreds every year.
The Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 killed more than 1,100 garment workers.
Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Paul Tait